The Droid Hunter, Part 3

Part 1 | Part 2


Haven’s system is worse for wear, but it powers through: detects malfunctioned motors and actuators, retrains itself to avoid damaged connections, and moves ahead with what’s available. You travel the tops of darkened, cloud scraping buildings, grateful Metropolitan architecture is so complex. Roofs can be traveled like a surface terrain of their own, so long as you can jump them, recognize their changes from District to District. Your hookshot assists; Haven holds onto you to steady her through the leaps. Neon Valley is contiguous to the Iron District, which you have to cross to reach the Gold District. You can hide in a place you’ve kept hidden there under an abandoned twelve story hovercraft dealership.

Nothing is following you and Haven now, but it won’t be long before Droid Control’s drones catch up with you, scanning the city for your DNA. You just committed treason and stole government property – technically, a hit on Haven makes her property – and you were already guilty of years of Contamination. One count of falling for her was ten years, and there’s plenty of proof you’ve gone back to her again and again. You’ve got the death penalty on you, royalty or no.

You don’t know if they knew you were Haven’s human when they sent the call, they could’ve been planning on rounding you up right after it played, but you’re the most obvious human in existence now, either way. Heart’s on your sleeve bloody and mutinous, take a picture, motherfuckers. No turning back. Good thing is Retro Androids don’t have trackers embedded inside them. The Scavengers would never.

Your actual living location is hidden thanks only to Blithe, your oldest sister. Your siblings are mostly supportive of you being on the run, even though you can no longer contact them. Blithe can never really defect – she’s next in line – but you and her were always the secret rebel spirits; she’s got hacker connections on the dark side. When you told her you were running off, she gave you cloakers to cover the building you scoped out in the Gold District, location and DNA dampeners not even the top Metropolitan drones can murk. You’re off the grid, at least in one way. You own the address in the Diamond District that the government keeps on file for your employment, go back on occasion to make it look like you live there. Now they know you never really did.

Your place is a mess, complex broken tech and tearing cords, dirty floors and scrap piles of hardware, digital books cluttered on shelves. Had you known you that Haven would be here – ever – you might’ve tried cleaning your damage. But she knows you. No need to front.

Haven looks rough and exhausted, slowly stepping over junk, getting her bearings around the room. She takes in the evidence of you, inspecting your tech, interpreting the titles of your literature.

She looks over at you after a while, calculating.

“Don’t think for a second that this means I owe you,” she says.

You wouldn’t dream of it.

When she told you to leave her for good, six months ago, she said that she thought you had always taken pity on her. If anything, you’re the pitiful one between you. She’s equal to you at worst and high above you at best.

You have loved her because of who she is, not because of her work. You still haven’t even consummated the relationship.

You have never taken Haven, not even when it killed you both not to some nights, because you wanted her to be free first.

“Nah, you don’t owe me shit. If anything, I owe you.”

Haven takes a moment to process that. The eyebrow portions of her face pinch slightly, the lenses of her blinking eyes expand. You have missed watching her analyze you.

“My connect sold me out,” she says. “It was obvious.”

Yeah. You were trying not to think about that.

You knew it was her the second the order fell. Infinity Amphora was the one who delivered the message to you, in person. One of Haven’s regular clients in the Star Commission, who commits mass murder for kicks, sucks up to the highest government agents, and praises the belief that Androids are worthless, but basically lives in the Retroclubs at night. She’s so obviously wanted Haven in ways she can never have, too insecure to ever admit it, she’d rather Haven be dead than not in love with her, you could just kill the everliving –

“Don’t,” Haven says, interrupting your next thought with precision, “try to take her down in my honor or whatever self-involved, heroic thought you’re about to have. I’m a fugitive, more so than I already was, so any association you have with me puts a target right on your back. Sure, you’d probably skirt the death sentence, because you’re still royalty even if it is your prerogative to be poor. Just don’t push your luck. I couldn’t take it.”

You are struck by that.

“Fuck,” Haven breathes, “I need a charge.”

You immediately search for an old enough Metrocorp adapter in your chaos. Haven sits along one of your walls, closing her eyes. When you find what she needs, you crouch beside her and connect her via the portal on her chest. The euphoric expression she makes stirs your heart.

When the loading bar across her chest alights, you swallow. She was only on 3%. Had she exerted a little more effort on your trek through the Iron District, she would’ve dropped. You couldn’t have carried her like that, not at the speed to outrun your pursuers.

You should’ve gone to her as soon as you got the message. Your hesitation was only an act of self preservation, as long as you could stand it. Who were you kidding? You were never going to last long. The thought of running to her and springing her out of that club was so vivid and brash that you thought you needed time for it to dilute. Look where dilution and hesitation got you.

“Haven, I’m so sorry.”

She keeps her eyes closed, shaking her head.

“This had to happen.”

You stay next to her, silence soothing the wound of this truth. She’s charging quickly, bouncing back fast. Her exterior needs work, but you should start making your endgame plan before you do that.

The indie texts you’ve been reading from the Scavengers have given you an idea of one. You were always ready to get the hell out of Metropolis, the last two years more than ever, it’s why you live in squalor, your bounty hunting just a layover. Some say the Scavengers are full of shit, that there are no tunnels underground, but how do they keep getting in and out? You trust them.

There was always just one question holding you back.

You notice that Haven’s loading bar has stalled at 30%. You reconfigure the connection, twice, but it’s not the cord.

“You can’t charge past thirty,” you realize.

Haven opens her eyes. “It’s a setting. I got nerfed, all of us did, back at the club. Couldn’t let us get to thirty one, that might cause a strike! Fifteen years and counting. If someone with a Repair Control Panel for my series would ever undo it, I’d finally remember what it feels like not to lag all the time, but.”

You go to your work bench and pull yours out, compatible with her series and more.

Her posture tenses when she sees it.

“I don’t trust you.”

That hurts, but you understand. You’ve only known her for two years and she’s been in her current conscious for twenty seven. Being able to use a Panel on an Android gives you the ability to change a lot about them, possibly beyond repair. The human equivalent would be like giving a child the reigns to rearrange your nervous system, and hoping when they’re done that you don’t try moving a foot and end up swinging an arm.

Haven has been rearranged internally by her tech-illiterate owners more than you think you can stomach to know. But you know a lot about Androids.

You would never change anything that makes her essentially her.

“Hey,” you say, leaning in, tipping her cool chin up with two fingers. “It’s just me. Remember?”

You can see her flashing memories back through her lenses: small, blue-washed images flickering so fast that you can’t tell what they are exactly. You think you have an idea, though.

“Okay.” Haven stops the images. “Nothing but my power settings, clear?”


You edit them on your screen, removing the cap, and she immediately relaxes. 31%. Lift off.

“I’m gonna go into sleep mode,” she says, “it’ll speed up the process.”


She enters the mode, letting go. Her head droops slightly, her arms go loose against her torso. You watch her, the signs that she’s still there in the quiet whir of her processors, the buzz of her portal around the charger.

Now that she’s not awake and actively tuned into you, the despair you’d been feeling beneath the adrenaline takes hold. This should’ve never been her life, she is worth so much more than the cards she was built with. You want to protect her more than you’ve ever wanted anything, rage against the society that’s tried to break her soul.

But she was right when he said you should let the enemy get away. Sometimes the best revenge isn’t retribution. Sometimes it’s letting go, taking everything you love and running from the fight.

When she wakes up, you will consult your sources, Indie Uprising and others, for the maps they’ve drawn of the underground tunnels. The Outer Valleys are dangerous and lethal in their own right, but at least outside the city’s walls, you’ll both be free.


Poetry written in 2015.

She told me red was my color so
I painted my whole body in it.
Red was the color of my palms
When her hands were in mine.
Red roses in my hair, red heels,
I spoke red words
But red was soon the color of my skin
From being rubbed raw.
The color of my eyes from losing sleep.
When she left, I was red without willing it.
I miss when I was colorless,
When I looked in the mirror and
Saw myself.

Prologue: Paradise Planet

Along the same vein as Kurt and Sebastian Play SBURB, here is the prologue of another nerdy crossover I’ve attempted, between Pokémon and, of course, Homestuck, once more, with feeling. This work is mostly inspired by the infamous Indigo League anime and, of course, Pokémon Yellow, which was my first title on the Gameboy Color.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction using trademarked characters from both franchises.

Art by me (2019)

> Hello there.

Welcome to the world of Pokémon. A world inhabited by creatures and humans – and aliens – living and working together in harmony. For some, Pokémon are pets. For others, they are used for great displays of teamwork and strength in battle. For all, Pokémon are the guiding force behind events on Earth. Time, space, antimatter. Knowledge, emotion, willpower. These are the domains that govern the universe, that bind a trainer and its Pokémon in unity.

Our journey begins in the Alola region, made up of five islands: Melemele, Akala, Ula’Ula’ Poni, and Summoner’s Paradise. Though the hero of our narrative lives in present day Alola, in order to understand his story, we must first journey to the past, to figures of legend. The Dolorosa was the first of her alien race, known colloquially as trolls, to make contact and communicate with Pokémon. And to understand her story, we must journey to another universe entirely.

> Be The Dolorosa

Your name is The Dolorosa, you are the Grand Auxillatrix of the Alternanian Empire, and you are nearing the end of your lifespan. These have been dire centuries, spent under the cruel, violent rule of the Empress.

Over the millennia, your eugenics-loving Empress grew so disgusted with Mother Grubs producing lowbloods – in fact, in the brood that would be the last straw, a mutant was born and ordered to be killed – she destroyed the entire planet and all the young with it, with the help of The Grand Highblood. She, the surviving adults, and one last matriorb remained in space, continuing their imperial conquest over the universe.

The keeper of that matriorb is you. Privately outraged by the needless slaughter of youth, you are a double agent, looking after the future of the species on behalf of the Empire as well as furthering plans for the dispersion of said Empire.

You have in your possession, unbeknownst to your fellow Jadebloods, three young larval grubs that were part of the last on-planet brood: one fuchsia, one of your sign, and one bright red. You spend enough time alone with grubs, given your high authority, that you were around for these rare finds.

Of course, law dictated that you should disembowel bright red grubs on sight. But ever since the unjust hanging of your dear friend Neophyte Redglare, at the hand of the system that she dedicated her life to, you do not care much for law. Treason be damned.

Continue reading

Books in Review: The Sirens of Titan

If you know me well, or if you’ve ever followed me on Twitter, you probably know who my favorite fiction author is. This week in April has been a meaningful celebration in remembrance of one Kurt Vonnegut, who passed on April 11, 2007. One of his favorite holidays, I think, was Earth Day. I credit him with being my biggest sole influence when it comes to Literary Fiction – how I have managed to make magical realism my game, but still carry an important message.

This article was written in 2013, edited in 2021.

My biggest issue when it comes to my fiction is that I over-write. Seems like the opposite of a problem for an aspiring novel-completer, right? I wish.

The ability to use as few words possible to say the most meaningful things possible is one that I greatly envy, hence the reason that I am consistently jealous of one Kurt Vonnegut, my favorite author. Most young people probably know him because they had to read Slaughterhouse Five in high school; I found out about him from having to read Cat’s Cradle in high school, and it was the only book I read that year besides Gatsby that didn’t put me to sleep faster than a Nyquil overdose.

(I didn’t used to be as into literature as I am now. 2021 me is surprised that 2013 me felt this way).

The main reason that Cat’s Cradle stuck with me was the fact that each chapter – there are 127 of them – is no longer than about five pages each. Sometimes chapters are even one page, or half a page, in comparison to my chapters that will go for 30 or 40 pages. Each sentence in that book, too, uses the simplest structure and vocabulary usage possible, canceling out the transcending myth that the bigger your words are, the better your writing is. In Vonnegut’s case I find that the simpler something is written, the more you’re supposed to get from it.

Getting through Cat’s Cradle the first time was no problem, as at its surface level, it offered easy-to-read, sci-fi entertainment at the very least. Understanding the deeper meaning of it, though, took several reads and pauses, as most of Vonnegut’s stuff does, at least for me.

That’s why I love him so much.

After re-reading Cat’s Cradle nine or ten times over the course of three years, I decided it was high time that I check out the rest of Vonnegut’s work. Shortly after finishing a collection of his short stories, I went to Barnes & Noble and randomly picked the first Vonnegut book that caught my eye.

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

The Sirens of Titan caught my eye because the cover is neon green and purple, the most jarring color combination to my eyes besides orange and blue, which happens to be the coloration of the cover of Breakfast of Champions.

Like Cradle, the basic plot of Sirens is relatively simple in summary: a rich young man named Malachi Constant gets the future told to him by Winston Niles Rumfoord, a wealthy time traveler, and then proceeds to live out that future, but against his “free will.” Constant goes on a round trip journey through the universe, and some of the bumps on his path include: an invasion of Earth by Martians, a crash-landing on Mercury, a return to Earth in which he becomes the “savior” of a new world religion, and an eventual exile on one of Saturn’s moons.

And the best part about it? He came up with the idea for the entire book in one night.

That plot summary may make the book sound like it’s all over the place, but Vonnegut’s ability to write simply and straightforwardly makes it both the most compact and the most believable plotline I’ve ever read. He’s exceedingly able to make the extraordinary sound ordinary, and vice versa, and pack a meaningful punch with every sentence or line of dialogue he carefully placed in the story.

What the novel ends up being about, on a deeper level than just the plot, is the definition of human existence—which, Vonnegut reveals, is that the entire Earth exists solely to deliver a message sent by distant, Tralfamadorian aliens. When putting it that way—implying that none of us really have a choice in the purpose that we serve, and that that purpose could very well be completely ridiculous—humanity’s existence can seem pretty bleak and pointless. But that’s Vonnegut’s point, (that always seems to be his point), and he goes about making the point in a way that’s blunt and hilarious, while simultaneously dark and existential.

He means to poke fun at the seriousness humans place in all of the things that aren’t going to last, the things that are miniscule in comparison to the entirety of the universe, past, present and future. He means to ask us to ask ourselves if what we do and what we believe in even really matters.

That’s a tall order, but it’s one that we all have to face whether we like it or not.

In Sirens of Titan, Vonnegut questions the idea of free will, and how “free” it can actually be in such a pre-determined universe. He has several examples of mind control going on in the book; the structure of the Martian Army is especially intriguing, with its made-up conglomerate of generals who aren’t actually in charge of anything and don’t have any real power. They’re merely fake figureheads, put in place as a formality. The Martian soldiers are actually controlled by a buzzer that sends a shock wave through their brains if they develop thoughts that go against the regime—a buzzer that any common soldier could be holding at any given time, no matter their made-up rank.

It turns out that one of the commonest men of the bunch, Boaz, is one of the soldiers who holds a buzzer.

Kurt Vonnegut makes me relate to almost every single character of his almost instantly, even if I’ve only just been introduced to them, and even if they only appear on one page. Malachi, the protagonist of Sirens, is your standard “spoiled rich boy” who’s had everything handed to him, but hasn’t done anything with it. Relatable? Sort of; as of 2021, I have at least 500,000 words of fiction on my person, but haven’t done much with it yet.

Book Review: The Sirens of Titan
Alternate cover art

It’s always fascinating to watch Malachi Constant try to sidestep the inevitable future that Rumfoord tells him about. Pretty early on, Rumfoord dictates to him everything that is ever going to happen in his life, including the wildest bits about intergalactic time travel, and Malachi’s reaction to this news—getting drunk, sleeping around, blowing all his money, escaping reality—is the reaction that many of us have in our own lives when we are faced with the scary and inevitable.

From everything tragic that happens to Malachi on, you feel for him, and watch in anticipated agony as his inevitable, unhappy ending comes closer and closer. The helplessness that you feel as you read is page-turning—you already know it’s going to happen, but watching how the hell it’s even going to manage to happen is most of the fun of trekking through the novel.

The character of Rumfoord, too, extracts your sympathy when you discover that he is trapped in what’s called the chrono-synclastic infundibulum, never allowed to materialize on any given planet but Titan for more than a few minutes. What Rumfoord ends up doing because of this fate, and because of his future-telling abilities, seems rather villainous—manipulating thousands in order to establish his church (The Church of the Utterly Indifferent ), maliciously withholding information from Malachi and his own wife in order to bring about his plan—but it also seems kind of warranted. He’s been granted such terrible knowledge, and he has no way to get rid of it or do anything about it—how unimportant he must feel as a human being. It begs the question: do any of us really want to know the real meaning of the universe? Or would knowing everything be too intense?

All of Vonnegut’s characters in Siren have such universal dilemmas: they don’t want to lose their innocence, they’re afraid of unknowns, of mysterious higher powers. Vonneget uses figures like Malachi, Rumfoord, Beatrice and Chrono to show that people are just pieces in a universe that controls itself.

It’s like Rumfoord says to his wife at some point, when she asks him why, if he can tell the future, doesn’t he just tell everyone everything that will ever happen?

“’All I can say is that my failure to warn you about the stock-market crash is as much a part of the natural order as Halley’s Comet—and it makes an equal amount of sense to rage against either one.’”

The book has been controversial, I gather, because of its anti-religious undertones, and what Vonnegut dubbed The Church of The Utterly Indifferent. The way that Vonnegut writes, however, doesn’t preach or imply that you should believe the anti-religious message of The Church. He simply places the reality of the situation out there for you—that none of us really knows what the universe will hand us—and you can interpret the situation however you want to. You can agree with the idea that the universe is controlled by a nameable God, or you can agree with the idea that the universe is chaotic, and the forces that control it are either mysterious or nonexistent. Whatever you believe, we’re all in the same boat anyway.

A character named Unk, a soldier in the Martian army, ends up getting his memory erased. He is confused, hurt, lost, and wishes that someone on Mars would tell him what he was really supposed to be doing with his life. Later on, Unk finds a letter addressed to him, and this letter is one of the funniest, truest, and most meaningful things I’ve ever read about human life.

While Unk reads the letter, full of personal anecdotes, hilarious insight, and useful points of advice, he becomes filled with these moments of great joy—finally, someone is telling him who he is and who he loves, and finally, he is having his memories restored. The letter warns him, however, of the dangers up ahead of him, that the Martian army is out to erase his memory over and over. It ends up telling him that he should escape, for his own good, and tells him about the family he needs to save.

For a while, he thinks that the author of the letter must be a friend of his, or someone objective who cares for him. But when he gets to the bottom of the letter, he finds that his own name, “Unk,” is the signature. He wrote the letter to himself before his memory was erased.

My favorite passage in the book reads:

“It was literature in its finest sense, since it made Unk courageous, watchful, and secretly free. It made him his own hero in very trying times.”

Writing to or for yourself can literally save your life. What a powerful message.

I remember having to put the book down after getting to this page. If I was a person who enjoyed crying, I probably would’ve cried about it. (Not really, but it did hit me on a pretty emotional level). As a writer myself, this line told me that if I ever feel like I’m starting to lose the voice of my inner author, or if I ever feel that the world around me is trying to erase my identity, I should write, because my writing will always voice who I really am inside, and returning to it will always remind me of my faith in myself.

If none of this has convinced you to read the book, do it for the fact that Vonnegut is famous for his slapstick comedy (seriously, Sirens is hilarious), and do it for the fact that when it comes to science fiction, this man is a pioneer.

This book taught me things about life that I never expected to gain from a story about time travel and Saturn’s moons. It only reinforced my love of Vonnegut, and showed me that the deepest of messages really can be written with the simplest of words.

Store Run

At 4:32, I need to go to the store. It has to be at 4:32, because it takes exactly eight minutes to get to the store, and I have to be inside of the store by 4:40, because shopping for groceries always has to begin exactly at a ten minute interval.

I need to make a list of what I need: apples, oranges, birth control, condoms–but wait, that list needs to be in alphabetical order: apples, birth control, condoms, oranges.

I need to map out which aisles I’ll be going to, in descending numerical order, before I get there, so that I can be sure that I’m out of the store by five o’clock; shopping for groceries can take no longer than twenty minutes. Apples and oranges are in aisle four, birth control is in aisle three, and condoms are in aisle two. 4:32, perfect–but wait, I can’t go back to aisle four to get the oranges once I’ve already gotten the apples–that wouldn’t be in descending numerical order–so I guess I can’t buy oranges today.

Now then, the list reads: apples, birth control, condoms. ABC. 4:32. Perfect. I’ll spend five minutes exactly in each aisle, and five minutes exactly at the checkout, to ensure that I am walking out the door exactly twenty minutes from the time I walked in.

…Fuck, it’s 4:33.

We Can’t Talk About That

“There was, just before the feminine mystique took hold in America, a war, which followed a depression and ended with the explosion of an atom bomb. After the loneliness of war and the unspeakableness of the bomb, against the frightening uncertainty, the cold immensity of the changing world, women as well as men sought the comforting reality of home and children. (…) We were all vulnerable, homesick, lonely, frightened. A pent-up hunger from marriage, home and children was felt simultaneously by several different generations; a hunger which, in the prosperity of postwar America, everyone could suddenly satisfy.”

Betty Friedan, “The Feminine Mystique

When I write up my outlines for potential book plotlines these days, I usually set out what my overall “themes” are going to be. I’ll start writing and think I’m going in one direction, but the next thing I know, ten or twenty pages in, the major theme ends up morphing into something else. Often times without “my” permission. The writer in me has her own voice.

No matter what my story is about concretely—whether it’s as complex as time traveling kids who crash land a planet full of misandrists (yes, that is a thing I am attempting to do), or as simple as a girl who just wants a guy to notice her—my underlying theme or “moral of the story” usually ends up having something to do with mental health.

More specifically, it ends up having something to do with the fact that mental health issues, at least in my experience, seem to be these big, scary things that nobody wants to talk about, like the adult version of monsters in the closet. Those of us who deal with mental illness, in our own lives or in our relationships with family members and friends, sometimes find it easier to just repress it.

I guess the motivation behind my wanting to write about this “mental illness repression” is the fact that I’ve read It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, a book that pretty quickly changed my life once I was done with it. Funny Story’s protagonist, Craig, challenges a lot of the taboos that come along with mental illnesses like major depression and anxiety. You’d think that reading a fifteen year old boy’s perspective on the matter wouldn’t teach you enough, but I think it’s because the author chose such an innocent and young speaker that the book hit home so well, to me. To me, when I read it, it was like, “Okay, if this kid is able to see that something is the matter with our country’s views on mental health, then why can’t we, as adults, see that problem?”

Aside from wanting to writing about it in stories, I’ve also just wanted to know, in general, why going to counseling and taking medicine because of said counseling are seen as shameful behaviors. When I’ve heard people say things like, “psychology is a pseudoscience,” “depression is just sadness,” “therapy is for weak people,” and “I don’t need meds, I’m not a crazy person,” I try not to ask them what it is specifically that makes them think that way, but judging from how I personally used to feel about mental illnesses, I can guess at the causes behind it.

Being diagnosed with a brain-altering disorder is like being told that you don’t have control over your own brain anymore. And that, at first, sounds completely dense and ridiculous.

It’s like, of course I have full control over my own brain—it’s mine, and the way it works is simple. I tell my left arm to move, and it moves. I hear my stomach grumble and tell my legs to walk me downstairs to the fridge. Being in full, autonomous control of ourselves and our bodies is one of the fundamental building blocks of existing as a human, since we can’t control others, can’t control the weather, and can’t control time.

But when you find out that you don’t actually have as much power over your brain as you thought you did—when “all of a sudden,” there’s a chemical that goes missing, an unwanted feeling, an involuntary, panicked reaction—it can be a scary thing to realize. It’s like, if I can’t even get a handle myself, how in the world am I ever going to handle anyone else? If I can’t even control my head, how am I supposed to control the rest of myself?

I think that some of the people who “don’t believe in psychology” stop those thoughts there and prevent them from going any further—reject the idea that the brain is somehow outside of our control.

Then there are the people who at least know that there’s a mental health issue in their life—that they are having thoughts that they can’t control, that they are having breathing problems and panic attacks that they can’t stop—but don’t want to admit it because they don’t want to seem like a “crazy person.” I blame the media for perpetuating the idea that all mentally ill people are “crazy people,” but then again, I’m biased, because I blame the media for a lot of things. Sorry.

I don’t see how having a mental illness automatically makes you “crazy.” Sometimes it does, yes, give or take, but I decide to look at mental illnesses the same way that I would all others, like, cancer, or something. No matter the circumstance and no matter the name of the illness, it’s a condition that the patient probably didn’t ask for and probably didn’t want, so telling a depressed person that they’re “crazy” or implying that they “just need to get better already” is probably inaccurate.

People with cancer need chemo the same way that people with major depression, anxiety, and such need therapy and medicine.

Cancer is visible, whereas mental illness seems, to an extent, invisible.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story was an excellent view of mental health from a male’s point of view, and I was able to compare this to my real life experience, having known and talked to a few males who have rejected going to therapy and then told me their reasons why. Needing therapy, and even just needing help in general, are seen as “feminine” needs, “feminine” problems; the “damsel in distress” trope exists for a reason.

Depression is not gendered or sexed. Neither are anxiety and psychosis. There exist millions of words describing why these conditions appear in humankind. From now on, I will be dedicated to exploring the why.

Digital Housekeeping

So when I changed my name on here to, I decided I wanted to also write about tech. Have I done nearly as much of that as I have creative writing? Nope. But I did just find the draft document of ideas I had for tech articles. I was going to call my blog “Digital Housekeeping,” hence this title, but I decided to keep going the creative writing route.

This is an old one, 2017-ish, but edited in 2021.

There’s a saying that goes “If the service is free, you’re the product.” Sites like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat profit by serving its ad partners’ ads to you as often as possible. Your profile is a member of an audience that Google & co. are selling to advertisers.

While harmless ads are indeed harmless, personally, I don’t like to work for free.

Becoming entirely ad-free is something of a process when you consider cookies. Websites give you cookies to store where you’re going to go next (and next and next) so that they can sell your profile to advertisers.

There are a number of options today’s Internet users have to prevent this kind of tracking. The question then becomes, how free are you? And I don’t mean that in a liberation sense, not literally, (not slavery).

The following is a list of apps and some advice for those moments where you’d like to be ad-free.

  • Adblocker Plus has been my go-to on Chrome, as well as HTTPS everywhere and Disconnect
  • Like in the body, computer viruses are MUCH harder to recognize than the computer equivalent of a bacterial infection. Right now, 2021, I’m going to be using a free app by Avast
  • Consider paying for your e-mail service. I do, but it gets mail forwarded from a Gmail account
  • Consider getting a VPN to mask your IP address
  • Clear your web browser history and cookies
  • Review the data collected by your search engine
  • DuckDuckGo and Startpage are two Google alternatives I enjoy
  • Google’s Account Settings
    • You can turn off location tracking, search queue, YouTube history, etc.
    • At the time of my writing this originally, I claim that Gmail stores your emails to serve you better ads. “This seems to be an unnegotiable aspect to the account,” says 2017 me.
    • Empty the trash in your Gmail

Disappearing From The Internet

Many people have tried to “disappear from the Internet,” and many can attest that it can be a damn near impossible undertaking. People finding sites have addresses, phone numbers, names of family members, you name it.

Many people, understandably, don’t care what corporations do with their data. Those cringey messages you sent your ex that one time you blacked out in 2013? Why would anyone important – the CEOS, etc., and the governments they often work closely with – care about your data? Why not sacrifice “privacy for convenience”?

However, maybe you aren’t comfortable with everything you’ve posted online being publicly available forever. Do what you can to secure your information, and that comfort will come.

Made of Soil

Flash fiction I wrote in or before 2016

22,100 BEST Forget-Me-Not IMAGES, STOCK PHOTOS & VECTORS | Adobe Stock

My skin is dark and made of soil. Gravity keeps the dirt packed solid against my bones, always slightly damp and never leaving residue on what I touch. Still, most people avoid me because of it.

Tonight at the supermarket, a woman stares at me, across the aisle where I’m stocking shelves. She has liquid black hair like a waterfall of ink, and I can tell she wants to touch me, the way her mouth is agape.

She walks over slow, not looking at my face, probably full of questions about my roots. I’m not prepared to answer, but I don’t have a choice. Soon she gets so close that I can feel her breathing oxygen into my soil, inhaling my earthy petrichor.

“Have you always been like this?” she says to my arms, one hand curled against her chest as if concerned. “Is it a condition? Must you be watered?”

She hovers her hands over my arms and it makes me nervous; she’s a cold kind of beautiful. Her fingers are curled into loose fists like they are holding seeds, and my pulse is visibly rumbling beneath my fine, top layer of dirt.

I don’t want her to touch me, but I do.

When she looks into my eyes, I see her eyes are not eyes at all, but eerie, dark holes in her face that seem to have no end.

As I stare into them, trying to find their end, she smooths her palms along my soil, slow and soft.

Then she stabs her fingers, sharp, into my dirt.


And then I feel seeds, dozens of them, slipping from her fingertips and burrowing in my arms. My body absorbs them as if it has a choice.

“Meet me here tomorrow,” she says, pulling away her hands. They are covered in my dirt and as if I have a choice, I work here tomorrow. She runs off without another word, a flurry of hair, skirt and wind, leaving me alone in the aisle.

On the walk home, I feel the seeds dragging themselves down deeper. I can’t stop seeing her face, and the more I picture her – the endless flow of her hair, the empty pits of her eyes – the more painful the holes she left in my arms become.

Once inside, my energy drained, I feel the hard shells of the seed coats break apart, the roots crawling out and spreading through my body. They latch, parasitic, around my nerves and vessels, draining my blood as if for nutrients. Finally, sleek stems coil out from my surface, multiplying quickly, leaves fluttering in the air.

Humiliated, I watch it grow: a tangled web of vines that starts to flower into finicky, blue forget me nots. I know now that I can’t return to the store, and this is what it means to be dark and made of soil: everything that touches you gets in.


Poetry I wrote at some point between 2013 and 2014, re-titled in 2021. My feelings on this topic are less intense, but I still understand this feel.

Black holes do not crush things because they have a desire to.

The universe exists, and it only exists. It does not want, it does not plan, it does not change its course, and it is not selfish.

Planets do not seek power. Their gravitational pulls are not greedy.

If nature is destructive, this is chance. Nature’s victims are not its enemies, are not its constituents, and were never its friends.

We can claim to be one with nature all we want. We will never be so gracious.

We are beneath her, and will never understand her. We reproduce for lust, waste life for love, spill blood for pride, and claim that she is our design for glory.

To liken humanity with nature is an insult to her order, because we are chaos.

We are emotions, we are chosen acts of violence, we are conscientious existence, we are destruction.

We are the desire to crush the universe.

Games in Review: OFF

This was my review after I played it for the first time, in 2013.

For the last month or two, I’ve been on a serious indie video game binge, particularly of the RPGMaker variety. If you’re not familiar with with RGPMaker, it’s a free gamemaking program that a lot of cool, mega-creative people use to produce their own relatively simple, low-budget, independent video games; and a lot of these creators then distribute their free, role-playing and adventure games on the Internet, much to the pleasure and undying gratitude of broke college students everywhere, including myself.

If you’re like I am and lose patience pretty easily with long term, real time games, (I keep telling myself that one day I’ll sit down and trek through Skyrim, but that day is yet to come), then RPGMaker games might better suit your tastes.

My late introduction to indie games began when I stumbled upon a game called OFF, created by Mortis Ghost and Unproductive Fun Time. (And of course I found it in my favorite virtual place ever, Tumblr, where I now find all of my favorite things). Originally produced in French in 2007, and later translated into English in 2008, the game and it’s extremely well-written storyline are very eerie to say the least, unsettling even at times. “OFF” has a stoic, aloof, and almost cold protagonist-hero, numerous creepy adversaries that sometimes warrant your sympathy, an ambiguous plot and elements of horror that come into play unexpectedly, and a symbolism throughout that, when it reveals itself, packs a resonating punch. Just my type of story.

A summary of the game is best given very briefly, such as this one from one of the contributors:

In “OFF” you take control of a mysterious person called “The Batter”, who is described to be on an important mission. The Batter, and yourself as his controller, are dropped off in zone 0, the first of 4 zones in a perplexing, unknown world, about which you slowly find out more and more in the process of the game.

That’s about all you know for most of the time you’re playing. With only a few hints here and there as to how to proceed from a guide-like character called the Judge, you wander around the “zones” and purify them from evil, which you soon find out are plaguing little creatures and ghosts called Spectres. The lack of information as to why the batter has been chosen as the hero for this mission, and where he even came from, is what will end up keeping you engaged ’til the end. The battles are fun, (if you’ve ever played early-gen Pokemon games you’ll enjoy them), the zones and their backstories are intriguing, and the narrative’s even funny throughout. The funniest character in the game is the items-merchant Zacharie, who drops in occasionally and doesn’t just break the fourth wall, but blows huge, gaping holes through it, interacting with both the player and the batter.
The “old school” graphics, the basic controls, and the almost too-simple leveling-up method during game play are exactly that way for a reason: they don’t distract you from the narrative, and make you pay attention to what you’re reading whenever a character speaks. No line is out of place; it’s all going to be important in the end. Though the turn-based and menu-based combat can slow down the pacing a bit, (although your speed does get better the higher you level up, and there is an “auto battle” option for whenever you get lazy like I did), it seriously helps that all the little battles along the way are set to the catchiest song in the world. (I legitimately got excited whenever I ran into another at-random adversary ’cause it meant that I got to hear the song again. In fact the entire soundtrack is really, really creepy and cool.)

I think that what I liked best about this game was that it really required your mind in order to get through. You’re not just moving right along and pressing keys. There are puzzles along that you have to mentally work through in order to proceed: patterns to discern, codes to unlock, hidden messages to seek out, hints dropped by characters that you’d be wise to remember. You never know what you’re going to need to use in the end so you find yourself paying dedicated attention to everything, hanging onto every word, or at least I did.

The puzzles are just challenging enough that they won’t make you quit, and the pay-off for figuring everything out is rewarding enough that you stay put.

Each time you finish a “zone” and defeat each level’s final boss, a little bit more and more about the underlying story starts to become clear. But the more you know about the game you’re playing, the more your opinion and what you think is happening has to start forming and influencing your decisions; the game truly is nothing without the player. The different perspectives and allusions and possible conclusions that the game reveals are all yours to decide on, all yours to carry out.

I can’t say virtually anything about the way that it ends except that, if you were paying attention, it’ll seriously make you think about your life and your choices for a long time after you’re done with it. (It hit me like a ton of bricks, but that just may be because I get way too into these kinds of things–English major problems.)

I recommend OFF to video-game-players non video-game-players alike. It’s simple enough to grasp that I recommend it to everyone who has a few hours to kill, and who wants to play something that will challenge them, entertain them, impress memorable lines and characters on them, and remind them of one of life’s inevitable truths.

All that, and it’s free. You can’t really argue free.

If I’ve persuaded you enough to try this thing, the download link for the game is here (scroll down a little bit and you’ll see it; all it is is one zip file, and then you’re ready to go). OFF and the indie games like it that I’ve been playing just go to show that some of the most meaningful fictional stories of today can be told in simplest and most unexpected art forms. OFF may not have been sponsored or published for money, and it doesn’t seem to offer as much as it will at first, and it may just be a video game, but it’s now up there with all of the fiction that I ever spent cash on to read and play through.

Escaping from your purpose is impossible.
Art by Tumblr user @japhet-the-firebird